• Thailand Explorer

  • Thailand Explorer

  • Thailand Explorer

  • Thailand Explorer

  • Thailand Explorer

The highlights of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the wildlife of Thailand

Days: 10 | From: $5,390/per person

  • Includes hand-picked accommodations at best in class luxury hotels
  • Expert private guides make Thailand come alive
  • Choose from a range of unique, optional tours and local experiences

Your trip begins in the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, a city that fuses old-world Thailand with new, sleek modernity. Here, you will have the opportunity to cruise along Bangkok’s canals in a traditional longtail boat, passing temples and communities. Explore iconic temples such as Wat Arun and Wat Pho, witness monks and morning alm ceremonies at Buddhist pagodas, visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and the Grand Palace, and more. From Bangkok, fly to Chiang Mai to explore this breathtaking ancient city. Visit artisan shops, visit centuries-old temples, and climb up Doi Suthep Mountain. From Chiang Mai, you’ll travel back to Bangkok and into the jungle to see the incredible Hua Hin Wildlife Rescue Centre, hike besides mangroves and dramatic limestone cliffs in Sam Roy Yod National Park, and observe wild Asian elephants in Kui Buri National Park.

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Talk to one of our Vaya Asia Specialists
1 (510) 335-8229

We tailor itineraries to your dates and interests, adjusting hotels, excursions and length as desired.

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At a glance

  • Bangkok
    2 nights: Experience the buzzing metropolis of Bangkok
  • Chiang Mai
    3 nights: Explore temples, markets, and villages
  • Bangkok
    1 night: Float along the Chao Phraya River like royalty
  • Hua Hin
    3 nights: Experience elephants, beaches and culinary immersion

  • All itineraries are fully customizable. We will send you a personalized variation that reflects your interests and travel dates at no extra cost. Call to discuss your travel plans with one of our Specialists who know this region firsthand.

Customize this trip
1 (510) 335-8229

Sample itinerary

Day 1:

Welcome to Bangkok!

Aerial view of Bangkok skyline and skyscraper with BTS skytrain Bangkok downtown. Panorama of Sathorn and Silom business district Bangkok Thailand at night.

Fly into the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, a city that fuses cutting edge modernity with old Thai charm. Set on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the capital of Thailand has a bit of everything: from golden wats (temples) to soaring skyscrapers, the old and the new can be found everywhere, with delectable street stalls hawking aromatic delicacies in between.

Board a traditional longtail boat to explore the city’s crisscrossing khlongs (canals), passing temples and communities along the water’s edge. Stop to visit the Baan Silapin Artists’ House, located in a centuries-old traditional teak family home, to see the photography and artwork within.

Continue to Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, one of the best-known temples in Thailand, and bid farewell to your longtail. Stroll the pavilions, ascend one of the iconic prangs (towers), and learn about the influence of Buddhism on everyday life. Board a local ferry for the short crossing to the far bank and a local restaurant, where you can enjoy a Thai cocktail and soak up the sunset with a view across the River of Kings.

Accommodations: Ariyasom Villa, 2 nights

Ariyasom Villa is a beautiful boutique hotel nestled in the midst of Bangkok, surrounded by tall trees and tranquil gardens. This quaint hotel offers 1940s style and charm, boasting Thai heritage antiques and tasteful design. Guests can enjoy a shady outdoor pool, an organic restaurant boasting vegetarian and seafood dishes, and can be pampered in the on-site spa. This hotel is perfect for guests looking for a more intimate experience while remaining in the heart of busy Bangkok.

*Includes: Breakfast

Upgrades and alternatives: Riva Surya Bangkok, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, The Siam, Avani+ Riverside Bangkok, and others
Day 2:

Temples and Prayers

Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat in Royal Palace Bangkok, Thailand

Join the local community in the ancient tradition of offering morning alms to the saffron-robed monks, just before sunrise. This sacred ritual, known as tak bat, carries deep significance, allowing Thais to accrue merit by presenting food offerings of cooked rice, fruits, and other provisions. Enjoy observing as this timeless tradition unfolds before you.

After, delve deeper into the rituals and daily life of a monk, starting with a visit to a local neighborhood temple. Here, you can make your own offering, light a candle or fragrant incense. Receive the blessing of a monk and explore the art of prayer within a Buddhist pagoda. Then, partake in a monk bowl-making activity within a community that crafts these symbolic vessels for a living.

Stop for breakfast at a local restaurant. Then, step out with your knowledgeable guide to explore the main temples and monuments of Bangkok, discover a few hidden gems and gain an insightful introduction to Thai culture and its fascinating history. First, visit Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Bangkok’s oldest temple, housing the country’s largest reclining Buddha at 151 ft long and 50 ft tall. Proceed to Lak Muang, the City Pillar Shrine, which represents the founding of Bangkok over 220 years ago. Next, step into the Grand Palace, the official residence of the royal families from 1782 until 1925 before admiring the early 18th century Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Pra Kaew), the most revered shrine in the Kingdom.

Afterward, have lunch at a local restaurant before returning to your hotel. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to relax or explore on your own.

Accommodations: Ariyasom Villa, 2 nights

*Includes: Breakfast

Day 3:

From Floating Markets to Chiang Mai

floating boats at floating market

Discover the famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market this morning. Traveling first by car, and then by longtail boat, cruise the maze of canals and observe vendors selling fresh fruit, vegetables, souvenirs and more. Continue on foot to nearby Lao Tuk Lak market, a smaller, more traditional community market. Stop for a traditional Thai iced coffee before heading to the fascinating Maeklong Train Market, where you can walk along the tracks and listen for the arrival of the train. Watch as the stall holders rush to remove their goods from the track, only to replace them as soon as the train passes by.

Return to Bangkok in the early afternoon, stopping en route at a family-operated coconut palm sugar factory. Watch the production process unfold and taste some of the tantalizing snacks made from palm sugar. After a quick stop to collect your luggage, head to the airport for your flight to Chiang Mai, where you will be met for private transfer to your hotel.

Accommodations: Rachamankha Hotel, 3 nights

Situated in the heart of historic Chiang Mai old city, the 25-room and suite Rachamankha is next to Wat Phra Singh, justifiably the city's most famous temple (cir. 1345). The hotel's distinctive aesthetic is inspired by the eleventh century northern Thai architecture. Rachamankha was designed in a residential style to encourage a genuine feel for the history and culture of Chiang Mai. A leisurely walk reveals hidden courtyards and gardens where unexpected surprises and captivating spaces are to be found on every turn. The library at Rachamankha exudes old world charm and character; it houses over 2,000 books ranging from novels to works on Thai history of art, architecture, design, and culture. The library lounge is a relaxing place for conversation and refreshments. The enchanting open-air massage pavilion overlooks a tranquil 20-meter pool where drinks and light snacks are served pool-side throughout the day. Rachamankha's cuisine honors the many local historical cultures. Traditional dishes celebrating Lanna, Burmese, and Shan cuisines are prepared in a simple yet elegant style.

*Includes: Breakfast

Alternative lodging options: 137 Pillars House, and others
Day 4:

Chiang Mai's Markets & Monks

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep with golden morning sky, the most famous temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Visit Chiang Mai Gate Market, a traditional fresh-foods market, early this morning. Sample some typical Thai snacks with the assistance of your guide. You will also see the monks making their alms rounds. Return to your hotel for a relaxed breakfast before taking a “songtaew” to the riverfront (& much larger) Worarot Market. From the market, head to Thapae Gate, one of the four original city gates, and continue to Wat Chiang Man, Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Suan Dok where you can meet an English-speaking monk. Return to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure.

This evening, set off on an exciting food adventure, traveling to a number of bustling neighborhood markets by Songthaew with your local expert foodie to indulge in a feast of Northern Thai street foods. Learn how to order food and uncover the ingredients behind recipes, some passed through generations.

Accommodations: Rachamankha Hotel, 3 nights

*Includes: Breakfast

Day 5:

Chiang Mai Handicrafts Tour

Selective focus. Stairs of Doi Suthep Temple, Chiang Mia, Thailand. Empty stairs of Doi Suthep temple

Hop on a samlor, a Thai tri-wheeled pedicab, and set out to discover Chiang Mai’s handicrafts. Enjoy a ride around Kamphaeng Din Road, which follows the path of the former outer wall of the city. Arriving to Pradtoo Korm Market, stroll through the stalls before continuing on to Wat Nantaram, a temple that used to be at the center of the lacquerware industry. Pedal through the temple on your way to one of the city’s oldest factories, where they still produce lacquerware using traditional methods first introduced 200 years ago by migrants from the Shan State in what is now Myanmar.

Cross the moat to enter the Old City through the Suan Prung Gate, heading toward the Chiang Mai Gate Market. Sample local delicacies before pedaling to your last stop, the fascinating Wat Sai Moon Myanmar. This is the main temple for the Burmese (Myanmar) community in Chiang Mai. The architecture and atmosphere are different from Thai temples, and few outsiders visit Wat Sai Moon Myanmar. Here, you will meet one of the Burmese monks for a chat before heading for the Thapae Gate to eat lunch.

In the afternoon, drive to Doi Suthep Mountain to observe local pilgrims climbing the 308 steps up the mythical Naga serpent staircase to the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Join them in the climb, and at the top, enjoy sweeping views of the city below. Listen to the chanting of the monks, drink in the atmosphere and immerse yourself in the spirituality of this revered temple complex. Mingle with the pilgrims from across Thailand and discover pagodas and statues devoted to Buddhism with Hindu influences. Learn about Buddhism and its impact on the culture and daily life of Thai people as you tour one of northern Thailand’s most sacred temples.

Accommodations: Rachamankha Hotel, 3 nights

*Includes: Breakfast

Day 6:

Chiang Mai to Chao Phraya Dinner Cruise

The Buddhist Temple Wat Arun during dusk, one of the most popular and beautiful tourist attractions of Bangkok, Thailand

Hop a flight back to Bangkok today, where you’ll have a private transfer to your hotel. In the evening, embark on dinner cruise along the River of Kings. This luxurious boat ride is set on a traditional Rice Barge. Glide past the Temple of Dawn, the Grand Palace, and the Royal Barges Boat House Museum, passing under the striking Chao Phraya River bridges and cruising by numerous landmarks. While on board, enjoy Thailand’s world-renowned cuisine with a set menu designed by Chef Chumpol Jangprai.

Accommodations: Ariyasom Villa

*Includes: Breakfast

Day 7:

Hands-On Thai Cooking Class

tropical spices and fruits sold at a local market in Hanoi (Vietnam)

Set out for Nakhon Pathom to meet your guide, a passionate food lover and restaurateur who prepares authentic and beautifully presented Thai dishes. You will first board a local boat to Don Wai, a local floating market, to select the ingredients for today’s class. Learn about local produce and the farming community, then head down the Tha Chin River to your kitchen studio. In this hands-on cooking lesson, participate in the preparation of two Thai dishes, learning about local spices and ingredients. Afterward, enjoy the fruits of your labor. When you’ve finished eating, you will be transferred to your Hua Hin hotel near the beach with the afternoon at leisure.

Accommodations: Veranda Resort & Villas, 3 nights

The Veranda Resort & Villas in Hua Hin, Thailand, is a serene and luxurious retreat nestled along the golden shores of the Gulf of Thailand. Surrounded by lush tropical gardens and offering stunning views of the sea, the resort provides a tranquil escape for guests seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. The resort features elegant and spacious accommodations, including private pool villas, each thoughtfully designed with modern amenities and Thai-inspired décor, ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay. Guests can indulge in delectable Thai and international cuisine at the resort's restaurants, savoring their meals while overlooking the picturesque ocean. The Veranda Resort & Villas also offers a variety of recreational activities, from water sports and beachside lounging to pampering spa treatments, providing a perfect blend of leisure and adventure. With its warm hospitality, breathtaking surroundings, and top-notch facilities, The Veranda Resort & Villas in Hua Hin promises an idyllic tropical getaway for travelers seeking an unforgettable experience in Thailand.

*Includes: Breakfast

Alternative lodging options: Cape Nidhra Hotel, and others
Day 8:

Hua Hin Wildlife Rescue Centre

Thailand elephant

Visit the WFFT Wildlife Rescue Centre, where your private guide will take you to see the 350 rescued animals living there. Hear their stories and learn why they are living at the center. Eat lunch with the staff and volunteers, discussing their work at the WFFT Wildlife Rescue Centre and Elephant Refuge and Education Centre. After lunch, join the Elephant volunteers at the Elephant Refuge and Education Centre, where you can meet the resident elephants and learn about their individual stories and personalities. Learn about the conservation issues that elephants face in Thailand, including the complications of typical elephant-based tourist attractions. Walk with one of our elephants on her daily walk, and accompany the volunteers as they feed other rescued animals, such as bears and monkeys. Transfer back to your hotel and enjoy free time at the beach (or your hotel) for the rest of your day.

Accommodations: Veranda Resort & Villas, 3 nights

*Includes: Breakfast

Day 9:

Hua Hin: Mangrove Forests & Wild Elephant Watching at Kui Buri National Park

Hua Hin beach near Hua Hin city

Explore the largest protected mangrove forest in the country, located near Sam Roy Yod National Park, also called the Mountain of 300 Peaks. The park consists of dramatic limestone hills, mangrove forests, creeks, and white sand beaches. This unique environment is home to a variety of wildlife, birds, and natural attractions.

Stop first at the Mangrove Forest Nature Trail, a wooden walkway that takes you right through the mangrove forest. Keep an eye out for sea crabs, tropical birds, and lizards. During high tide, tropical fish can be spotted in the water just off the walkway.

In the late morning, drive to Kui Buri National Park, stopping along the way for a local lunch. At the park, you can observe wild elephants in their natural habitat. Asia’s largest land mammal, the Asian elephant is an endangered species, due mainly to poaching and loss of natural habitat; Thailand’s population is only in the hundreds. You may also spot other wildlife here, including Gaur (or Indian Bison), barking deer, and a whole range of bird species. You may also catch a glimpse of other wildlife including Gaur (or Indian Bison), Barking Deer and a whole range of bird species.

Accommodations: Veranda Resort & Villas, 3 nights

*Includes: Breakfast

Day 10:

Farewell to Thailand

Huahin beach Thailand

This morning you will be transferred back to Bangkok for your flight home or to your next destination.

Popular Ways to Customize This Itinerary

  • Choose from a selection of carefully curated, best in class hotels to fit your individual travel style.

  • Consult with your Vaya Specialist and expand your trip to combine with another destination on the continent for a true in-depth look at Southeast Asia.

  • Add a few days on Thailand’s beautiful beaches to help you unwind at the end of your trip.

  • Take a short flight and spend a few days exploring the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

  • Contact us to learn about more options for designing and customizing your trip!

Call us to start planning your journey today:

1 (510) 335-8229

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Why Travel with Vaya?

We're TRUE specialists

We’ve not only traveled there, we’ve lived there. Our smart and engaging specialists are all current or former expatriates with years of experience in the region.

Uplifting service

From the first phone call to after you get back, we're here for you every step of the way. We listen, create, customize and advocate for you, and design experiences that go beyond the expected.

Thoughtful travel

Our discerning sensibility and good taste go beyond just choices in hotels and top guides; we have a walk the walk commitment to the environment and are genuine leaders in conservation efforts.